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The Second Edition of PHOTOFAIRS San Francisco Opens This Week

Katy Donoghue

21 February 2018

The second edition of PHOTOFAIRS San Francisco is open to the public February 22-25. Taking place at the Festival Pavilion in Fort Mason Center, the fair’s opening night—First Look—benefits the photography department of SFMOMA.

To learn more about the fair, Whitewall caught up with its Artistic Director Alexander Montague-Sparey and Director and Head of VIP Relations, and Sarah Shepard.


PHOTOFAIRS San Francisco 2017
Courtesy of Drew Altizer Photography.

WHITEWALL: This is the second edition of PHOTOFAIRS in San Francisco. How did you want the fair to enter its sophomore year?

ALEXANDER MONTAGUE-SPAREY: It is our ongoing mission to inspire through education and the sharing of information. Asia and Latin America are very experimental in the domain of photography right now and overall have such a rich legacy, so it was important to shine a spotlight on them both. They were also obvious choices geographically with Latin America so close and because of our fair in Shanghai. They are regions which are explored throughout the fair in the booths, but also as part of the talks program and through exhibitions. Our goal has always been to celebrate local artists and to broaden the conversation in a truly international way by looking outwards. This is the only way we can offer a truly relevant experience.


Terra Systema Respiro 12
Courtesy of EUQINOM projects

Video art and its relationship to photography is an ongoing interest of ours, and so our Connected sector, which explores gender and female voices working in video, was very important to achieve for this second edition; gender being a topic which needs analyzing right now more than ever.

Our Staged initiative, which looks at large scale pieces, is important curatorially because it will create exciting chapters throughout the space which explore the relationship between photography and installation art. The way collectors experience the space is vital to us and so we always look to new ways to make it as dynamic as possible.

Jordan Sullivan

Jordan Sullivan at PHOTOFAIRS San Francisco 2017.

WW: Who are some of the fair first timers for 2018?

SARAH SHEPARD: I think international galleries are very taken by our curated and contemporary approach to photography and as such we have been able to develop very strong relationships with leading players such as SAGE, Bruce Silverstein, Les Filles du Calvaire, Parrotta Galerie Suzanne Tarasieve, and Weinstein Hammons Gallery who all take booths for the first time.


Cig Harvey
Blizzard on Min Street
Courtesy of Robert Mann Gallery New York.

WW: There will be works exhibited at PHOTOFAIRS available for purchase for the first time on the West Coast. Can you share some highlights of those?

AMS: I am especially excited by Noemie Goudal (France), Mishka Henner (Belgium) Hatakeyama (Japan), Carlo Mollino (Italy), Juergen Teller (Germany), and Hai Bo.


Gohar Dashti
HomeCourtesy of Robert Klein Gallery

WW: How was the theme, “The Poetry of Silence,” chosen for the Insights exhibition?

AMS: I was always attracted to photography for its soulfulness and ability to quiet the mind.


Random International at PHOTOFAIRS San Francisco 2017.

I wanted to curate an exhibition which was going to really show people just how poetic photography can be. To place over 50 works together to create this sense of silence will hopefully remind people what art is all about; allowing us to be still even if just for a few moments, in a loud and busy life.

WW: Can you tell us about “Connected,” a new annual exhibition to video and new media art that will launch this year? Why was that an important edition this year?


Mathew Tom
Plant l
Courtesy of Christine Park Gallery

SS: Launching with a relevant and important exploration of moving image pieces by female artists, “The Channel of Democracy: Womanhood, Power & Freedom in Video Art” is our first presentation for the Connected sector in San Francisco. Curated by Justin Hoover, this exciting selection of works give viewers a platform to experience important political and social issues. Because we are interested in giving our guests a variety of ways to experience art, this is an important avenue for us and one we look forward to developing each year through different themes. This year’s theme is especially important to us as it taps into conversations in our current climate and will hopefully inspire people to walk away with new insights.

WW: Outside of the fair, what are you looking forward to seeing or doing in San Francisco the week of?

SS: We are fortunate this year to engage with a great deal of programming around San Francisco relating to photography, creating a true city wide experience. Through our robust off-site program of 17 events around the Bay Area we will be intersecting with artists and curators at many different institutions.

A few highlights for me will be seeing the exhibition “The Matter of Photography in the Americas” at the Cantor Arts Center, visiting the McEvoy Foundation for the Arts to see “Stories: Philip-Lorca diCorcia & Constance DeJong” and visiting the Tabitha Soren exhibit “Fantasy Life” at the San Francisco Arts Commission Galleries.



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